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France charges suspect in deadly 1982 terror attack on Paris Jewish restaurant

After extradition from Norway, Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed indicted for murder, attempted murder over bombing attributed to Abu Nidal Organization that left 6 dead

Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed flashes a victory sign during an extradition hearing at the Oslo District Court on September 25, 2020. (Terje Bendiksby/NTB/AFP)
Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed flashes a victory sign during an extradition hearing at the Oslo District Court on September 25, 2020. (Terje Bendiksby/NTB/AFP)

PARIS — A suspect in a 1982 terror attack on a Jewish neighborhood in Paris that killed six people was on Saturday charged and remanded in custody by French authorities after his extradition from Norway, judicial sources said.

Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed was charged with murder and attempted murder by a Paris magistrate specializing in terror crimes, said a judicial source, who asked not to be named.

He had appeared before the magistrate after arriving late Friday at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport from Oslo, where he had been living since 1991.

Abu Zayed was arrested in September in the town of Skien southwest of Oslo and Norway approved his extradition on November 27.

The bombing of a Jewish restaurant in the Marais area of the French capital, which also injured 22 on August 9, 1982, has been attributed to the Abu Nidal Organization, which splintered from the militant Palestinian Fatah group.

Firemen and rescuers in the rue des Rosiers after the French-Jewish delicatessen restaurant Jo Goldenberg was attacked in Paris by gunmen who threw a grenade into the restaurant and shot at customers with sub-machine guns, killing six and injuring 22 others, August 9, 1982. (AFP/ JACQUES DEMARTHON)

Abu Zayed has denied being involved in the attack, in which between three and five men opened fire and threw grenades into the restaurant.

“My husband never killed anyone. He has never been in France,” his wife told AFP in 2015 in response to an international arrest warrant issued by France.

Abu Zayed claims he was in Monte Carlo at the time of the attack.

Opposing his extradition, he told Norwegian authorities: “I don’t like France. I don’t want to go to prison in France.”

File photo of Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed, alias ‘Souhail Othman’ as he gestures outside his home in the Norwegian town of Skien, some 130 km south of Oslo, March 4, 2015. (Tomm W. CHRISTIANSEN/AFP)

French authorities have issued arrest warrants over the attack, against two suspects in Jordan and another believed to be in the West Bank.

In 2019, Jordan refused to extradite one of the suspects because the case was too old, dashing the hopes of victims’ families that the perpetrators would finally be brought to justice.

The case has also been the subject of speculation of shady deals between France and the Abu Nidal Organization.

Lawyers for the bereaved say documents give credence to the idea that French intelligence guaranteed the group it would not face prosecution so long as it did not carry out any more attacks in France.

Former head of the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DST) Yves Bonnet admitted during a hearing there was an “unwritten contract” between the two sides, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

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